Flores Island is a MAGIC and BEAUTIFUL place! It is probably the most beautiful place I have ever visited in my life! Travel blogs are almost always limited to listing the positive aspects of the places, hiding too often the negative points. We won’t do that in this article.
If you like beautiful places and if you also have passion for animals (as we do), then read this article until the end, share it and help us to help the animals on the island of Flores. If this article is at the top of Google searches, we believe that someone on the island of Flores will pay attention to this problem.
FLORES ISLAND, AZORES
I have been thinking about writing this article for too long. I write it for two antagonistic reasons. The first reason, the positive one: the endless beauty of the island of flowers. The negative reason is truly dark and painful. I leave it for the end of the article. And it is with a heavy heart that I write about it. I shall call it the TRAGEDY OF THE FLORES ISLAND!
HOW TO GO TO FLORES ISLAND?
Let’s start by analyzing the geography of Azores!
As you can see on the map, the island of Corvo and the island of Flores are part of the western group of the Azores. For this reason they are the least known islands even by the Portuguese. Getting to Flores means flying to the central group or the eastern group, and only then flying back to the island of Flores. The airline Sata, makes the air connection between the islands of the archipelago.
It is also possible to travel by boat between the central group and the western group but the journey takes a long time (16 hours) and the sea conditions can make your trip a less than recommendable experience.
WHEN TO GO AND HOW MUCH TO FLY TO FLOWER ISLAND?
Well, the price depends on the time of year you are travelling and how far in advance you book your trip. It’s important to know that January and December are the rainiest months on Flores Island. The warmest months are July, August and September. The remaining months of the year are good options to visit the island.
Being an island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, the maximum and minimum temperatures never fluctuate much. In January, the minimum temperature drops to 15 degrees and in August, in the “height of summer”, the temperature rarely exceeds 26 degrees. Regarding the fog, it is a usual presence, it is very unpredictable and sometimes it can hinder your visits to the Island’s magnificent viewpoints. And of course, to visit and get to know the island well, you must rent a car!
Our recommendation for visiting the island of Flores is July and August. Not only because the weather is better (and with less fog), but also because you will have the opportunity to see the hydrangeas in flower.
But let’s imagine you live in Lisbon and want to visit the island of Flores in September. Let’s also imagine that we are in the month of May and you will make your reservation in May for September. First important fact, there are no direct flights. The best solution is to fly to São Miguel (Ponta Delgada), and then continue the trip with the airline Sata to Flores. We cannot fail to mention that Sata often cancels flights and has considerable delays that can become problematic. That said, we return to flight prices. If you buy your ticket in May for your trip in September, expect to pay approximately ¤120 between Lisbon and São Miguel (Ponta Delgada) and around ¤100 for the air connection between this island and Flores.
WHAT CAN’T I MISS ON FLOWER ISLAND?
Before we list the attractions of Flores, we thought it would be useful to have a look at the map of the island so that you can get an idea of the location of its attractions.
SANTA CRUZ DAS FLORES
Santa Cruz das Flores is the most important town on the island and it is there that the airport is located. When we say that it is the most important town on the island it is important to note that the population of the island is very small (less than 4000 people live on the island). So do not create false images or expectations about the settlement you will find here. The Boqueirão Whale factory, the church and the natural pools are all worth a visit.
POÇO DA RIBEIRA DO FERREIRO
If someone asks us what is the most beautiful place on planet Earth, our answer is: “o Poço da Ribeira do Ferreiro” on the island of Flores! Misty green cliffs mixed with waterfalls shrouded in a fog that insists on staying there. Access is via a trail that has to be walked. The walk is a little long (about 30 minutes) but the location is truly magnificent.
ROCHA DOS BORDÕES
Basaltic prisms embedded in a rock. They can be observed from the road or from a nearby viewpoint that gives you a privileged view of the rock. It is one of the great attractions of the island and one of the images selected by flower island tourism. To be honest with you, I must tell you that, for us, it has no place in our top 10 attractions of the island. But there are many opinions that do not confirm this appreciation of ours.
POÇO DO BACALHAU
Located in Fajã grande, poço do bacalhau is a magnificent waterfall and the most impressive on the island. It is quite close to the centre of Fajã. The sound of the waterfall will be forever etched in your memory. Not to be missed!
It is located in the western part of the island. Only 15 stone houses and no cars! The village of Cuada remains faithful to its rural history. It was abandoned for some time (between 1970 and 1990) and was restored (in the last decade of the last century) by a couple from Pico island. They transformed it into rural tourism of rare beauty. A tiny village surrounded by sea and mountain. If paradise exists, it must be similar to the village of Cuada!
A small village crossed by a stream (a watercourse that in the past was responsible for numerous floods in the area). There are some viewpoints that you should not miss in this place and that give you a magnificent view of the village (the Mosteiro viewpoint stands out). In Fajãzinha “time does not pass”.
It is the highest point of the island and is located at an altitude of metres. If you are lucky that the fog gives you a truce, you will enjoy an amazing view. It is usually windy and gusts of wind can be violent.
GRUTA DO GALO (GALO CAVE)
To visit the Galo cave you have to go by boat (there are several operators that offer this service). The cave is located in the sea and inside there is a beautiful waterfall. It is one of those places that stays in our memory. We visited this place during the crossing to the island of Corvo (the crossing was made in a small boat with a maximum capacity for 12 people).
LAJES DA FLORES
It is the westernmost municipality in Europe. Lajes das Flores has a beautiful church, a beautiful lighthouse and a magnificent sea view. In mainland Portugal we have Cabo da Roca as the westernmost point of continental Europe, and on the island of Flores we have the laje das Flores as the westernmost municipality of Europe. This alone is reason enough for you to visit.
PONTA DELGADA IN FLORES ISLAND
The island of Flores also has its Ponta delgada! It is located at the northernmost point of the island. It is a very small village with a privileged view over the island of Corvo. The landscape is magnificent here. Another perfect combination of green meadows and hills with the immense blue of the Atlantic Ocean.
LUÍS CAMACHO FOREST RESERVE
The reserve is near Santa Cruz das Flores and surrounds the aquaculture station that was created to breed the trout that today have returned to the island’s streams. In the Luís Camacho forest reserve you will find exotic birds, a picnic park, an area to relax.
THE 7 LAGOONS OF ILHA DAS FLORES
An island of volcanic origin, it has several inactive volcanoes and seven lagoons around the road from Fajã Grande to Santa Cruz.
LONG LAGOON AND DARK LAGOON
Two sister lagoons, located side by side and that can be admired on the piece of land that divides them. Two lakes that you should put at the top of your list for being extremely beautiful. Those who like to walk will find in this place the beginning of a trail that will take them to the cod pit.
DRY AND WHITE LAGOON
The dry lagoon is a volcanic caldera where some water accumulates when it rains. Most of the time it is dry and allows the view of the bottom of the boiler. A few meters ahead you will find the white lagoon. Here the water forms a shallow pond in a beautiful large crater.
DEEP AND SHALLOW LAGOON
Fog is a constant presence at Lagoa Funda and Lagoa Rasa. It may take several attempts for you to clearly see these two lagoons. But it is well worth it! The viewpoints are magnificent and the dance of the clouds a must to see.
It is small but particularly beautiful and well worth a visit. Not only to see Lagoa da Lomba but also to explore this area of the island. It is located 10 Km from Santa Cruz and 500 meters above sea level. It is only 15 metres deep and in winter it is often hugged by a dense fog that facilitates the growth of moss that decorates the lagoon.
VIRTUAL TOUR – FLORES ISLAND
We visited the island of Flores after spending a few days on the island of São Miguel (the largest island in the Azores). Anyone who knows São Miguel will know that it is a tourist destination with a wide range of hotels, restaurants, bars and entertainment. Most of the Azores islands offer, to a greater or lesser extent, a number of tourist services that satisfy most tourists. But the Island of Flores, is totally different from the scenario we have just described. Get ready for an island full of scenic charms, but extremely sparse in tourist supply. That is, on this island there are few restaurants (and those that exist have very high prices), few accommodation options and an absence of nightlife.
VISITING CORVO ISLAND FROM FLORES ISLAND
From the island of Flores you can easily see the island of Corvo (if it’s not a foggy day). The distance between the two islands is 26 kilometres.
The crossing can be done on a boat (a semi-rigid) with a maximum capacity of 12 people. There are several (small) companies that offer this service. The round trip cost us 40 euros (per person) and on the way we even visited the Galo cave (very beautiful!).
The visit to the island of Corvo can be done in 1 day (the island is very small and can be seen in 3 or 4 hours). The boat leaves Flores at 9am, the crossing takes about 45 minutes and the return is done at 4pm. Each occupant wears a life vest and settles as best they can into that small (and fragile) boat. Our trip was made on a day when the sea seemed quite calm… But I must say that the trip was quite scary. That day the waves were between 2 and 3 meters and it was evident the concern of who was driving the dinghy and their extreme attention to avoid the swell… The return was calmer because the wind had died down and the sea was calmer. Exciting… Dangerous? I can not guarantee… But the truth is that we did not feel safe on that crossing…
THE BEST VIEWPOINTS ON FLOWER ISLAND
NORTHEAST COAST VIEWPOINT
A viewpoint that gives you a magnificent view of the cliffs that defy the ocean waves!
VIEWPOINT OF THE BLACK AND LONG LAKES
At 600 metres altitude and a short distance from the parking place, we found the viewpoint of the Lagoas Negra e Comprida. The photographs do not mirror the true beauty of the view you will find there. From the top of 600 meters, Lagoa Negra has a greenish colour and Lagoa Comprida presents itself in dark tones. Very beautiful!
THE BATHING AREAS OF THE ISLAND OF FLORES
ZONA BALNEAR DE BOQUEIRÃO
In times gone by, it was a port used for whale hunting. Today (fortunately), whale hunting is forbidden and the port has been transformed into a beautiful area of natural pools.
POÇA DAS SALEMAS
The Salemas pool is an unguarded bathing area where you can observe small fish. So don’t forget to take your diving equipment with you (a simple mask will help you a lot).
EATING ON FLORES ISLAND
Eating on the island of Flores is a challenge. There is little to offer and prices are absurdly high. Unlike for example on the island of São Miguel (where there are many restaurants and the price/quality ratio is very good), on the island of Flores you may have to pay €30 per person for a meal that is terrible. I remember that on the first day of our holiday, after leaving our bags at the guesthouse, we looked for a restaurant to eat at in Santa Cruz das Flores.
The only thing we found open was a small restaurant (and with a terrible look/service), where the dishes alone cost about 20€. We had a (terrible) hamburger (frozen) on a plate with some horrible fries and paid about 15€ for that disgrace.
Throughout the holiday period, we searched for restaurants that offered reasonable quality at a fair price (I don’t know if you agree with me but, for me, up to 20€ per person is a fair price). We couldn’t find any! Any restaurant with a minimum of presentation cost at least 30/35€ per person for a reasonable meal.
We asked some residents about this problem. The answer was: “We have to take advantage of the presence of tourists…”. In short, it is a problem of greed. Without further comment… We spent the whole holiday eating in a Chinese restaurant (!!!) next to the airport. The price is cheap and the quality normal. The restaurant is called Macau (Rua da Esperança).
HOTELS ON FLORES ISLAND
We stayed in a hostel in Santa Cruz das Flores that we do not recommend and therefore we will not mention it. As a curiosity I can tell you that one day when we returned to the guesthouse there was a police car at the door of the guesthouse. The glass of the entrance door was broken. It had been the owner couple who had had a disagreement and they had been fighting until someone called the police…
We did a google search to be able to recommend you an option. Here is our suggestion (based on customer comments, central location and value for money).
37 reviews on google and an overall rating 4.8 (out of 5). It is 10 minutes from the airport. The reviews mention a clean space, friendly staff and large rooms. Wish I had done this research before travelling to the island….
THE FLORES ISLAND TRAGEDY
As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, the island of Flores integrates, in our opinion, the best and the worst of both worlds!
WHAT IS THE FLORES ISLAND TRAGEDY?
The tragedy of the island of flowers is, for us, the INCREDIBLE NUMBER OF ABANDONED CATTLE. THEY ARE STARVING ALL OVER THE ISLAND AND PARTICULARLY IN SANTA CRUZ DAS FLORES.
Those who do not like animals will not understand this paragraph. But for those who, like us, like animals, staying a few days on this island and living daily with this sight is torture. Also the number of dogs bound by chains (in backyards or on land) is incredible and can be seen all over the island.
After our trip, we contacted several animal protection associations and the practical effects of reporting were zero. Perhaps this article can help in some way. We chose not to include images of this tragedy (some images, unfortunately, do not leave my memory…) but believe me that the problem exists.